Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Thursday urged federal judges who are in their mid-to-late 60s to step aside so that Republicans, increasingly nervous about holding the Senate majority in the November election as they eye President Trump’s poll numbers, can fill the vacancies now.
Graham made the comments in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
“This is an historic opportunity,” Graham said. “We’ve put over 200 federal judges on the bench. . . . If you can get four more years, I mean, it would change the judiciary for several generations. So if you’re a circuit judge in your mid-60s, late 60s, you can take senior status, now would be a good time to do that, if you want to make sure the judiciary is right of center.”
Depending on the number of years they have served on the bench, judges who are age 65 and older are eligible to take a reduced workload known as “senior status.”
During his more than three years in office, Trump has remade the federal judiciary, ensuring a conservative tilt for decades. Trump nominees made up 1 in 4 U.S. Circuit Court judges as of the end of 2019, and two of the president’s picks sit on the Supreme Court.
Trump made judicial appointments a key part of his pitch to conservative voters during the 2016 campaign, and as the November election approaches, he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have continued to emphasize the issue.
Trump is likely to face presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in November.
In Thursday’s interview, Hewitt asked Graham whether he could assure judges who take senior status now that their successor “will indeed be confirmed before the election.”
“Well, if you wait, you know, November the 1st, no,” Graham said. “So do it now. . . . I need some time.”
(c) 2020, The Washington Post · Felicia Sonmez